5 Reasons Why Search Engine Optimisation is like Horse Racing


racing odds
credit: willpalmer

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of trying to improve a website’s search engine rank to attract more people to it and ensure those people are provided with useful high quality information that solves their problems and answers their questions.

I was trying to think of a good analogy to explain what SEO is like and I came up with horse racing because I see many similarities.

For the purposes of this analogy:

  • Trainers = SEO consultants
  • Horse = your Website
  • Jockey = your Webmaster and Content writers
  • Racecourse = the Internet
  • Search Engines = Official Handicappers
  1. No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google – Google is so worried about people promising this that they’ve added a page about SEO to their website to make people aware of SEO’s that claim to guarantee rankings

    This is just like a horse race because a Trainer (SEO) can help your Horse (website) become faster and more fit but they can’t guarantee the Horse (website) will win on the Racecourse (Internet) because they can’t control how much extra weight the Official Handicappers (Search Engines) will make the horse (website) carry

  2. A good Trainer (SEO) can greatly increase your chance of getting top rankings in search engine results (winning the race) by reducing the odds from an initial 100:1 to 20:1

    To do this the Jockey (Your Webmaster and content writers) needs to implement the Trainer’s suggestions and ride the horse (website) with skill and good strategy

  3. A rogue cheating Trainer (SEO) can use all sorts of illegal tricks equivalent to drugging your horse (website) to try and win the race

    Doing this is really risky because it can result in your website being banned from search engines which will give you a bad reputation.

    horse race finish line
    credit: juniorvelo
  4. If the Jockey (Your Webmaster and content writers) carries out the Trainers (SEO Consultants) instructions well than the odds can be further reduced from 20:1 to 10:1*

  5. After that you have to rely on some luck to win. The Internet has lots of competing websites all trying to get top search engine rankings and obviously all of them can’t be #1.

    It’s not possible to guarantee top search engine rankings without doing something unethical just like a horse race where you can’t guarantee winning without bribing officials or giving your horse drugs

Note: * = Odds are an example only to give an idea of the effect an SEO can have on search engine rank. Obviously they cannot be exactly quoted eg: 10:1


21 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Search Engine Optimisation is like Horse Racing”

  1. What a fantastic analogy! I think I might forward this over to my boss so he can better understand what he pays me for…haha..

    EDITOR: thanks Matt

    I wrote it because I constantly found myself having to explain what SEO is and I thought the horse racing analogy would be useful since Australians are a nation of gamblers

  2. Great post and fitting analogy. It boggles the mind how many SEOs continue to promise top rankings and I often find myself disadvantaged when I refuse to tell prospects “what they want to hear”.

    EDITOR: Keep telling the truth and being ethical Chris, it will pay off in the end

  3. good post..thias is a good way to express seo
    SEO is realy like horse racing..i read your post you say right things about it
    thanx for sharing it

  4. Aaron Wall and i discussed this article via email and he said:

    i wouldnt use the word illegal though… that infers some moral balance that search engines simply lack. when they pay someone to steal my content and wrap it in their ads THAT is illegal. if I violate their guidelines then that is a violation of guidelines…not something that is illegal.

    So I changed the last line from:
    “It’s not possible to guarantee top search engine rankings without doing something illegal”
    “It’s not possible to guarantee top search engine rankings without doing something unethical”

  5. Great Article. You have done a great job describing how SEO look like in real life. Keep doing good work and we all appreciate you for this effort.

    Jockey Must Keep Hitting the horse to make him ran faster. Webmaster are like Jockey.

  6. The problem is finding a trainer that knows what he’s talking about. Half of them seem to just repeat what they’ve heard.

    Guess the next article could be how a Trainer is like a parrot.

  7. This articles opened up my eyes about SEO. Not all sites can be number one. Pity so many people still get taken for a fool when it comes to SEO promises.

  8. This article is definitely an interesting concept on SEO, never thought of it being similar to horse racing. It has definitely taken a while for the company I work with to implement the SEO strategies to get a top page ranking, but it is all worth it in the end.

  9. i’m always been fascinated with search engine optimation this is what online marketing is all about….getting your own url at the first seat in the search engine and wow your analogy is very relevant i play horse betting and for me i always go to the horse with a good trainer and of course the jockey you really get me thinking about your analysis,hey buddy great job!!

  10. Just be careful when hiring an SEO trainer. Sometimes they don’t really know what they’re talking about. They buy an ebook, and just read it back to you.

  11. Great analogy.

    You’re completely right when you say “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google”. Too many consultants are promising number 1 results. Top 5 or 10 is much more likely.

  12. Hi Neerav – been meaning to tell you how much I enjoy this article. I stumbled upon it a few weeks ago and still thinking about it.

    It’s nice to read a realistic view of SEO – it’s hard to guarantee top results and it’s challenging when there are so many parties involved – that’s part of the fun – reminds me of trying to solve a mystery – looking for clues and putting together the puzzle of what will work for each client.

    Hope to see you soon – cheers & best,
    kristin rohan

  13. you definitely nailed the comparison of increasing traffic. this is really a sure definition of internet marketing today and mostly a lot are racing like a horse just to make sure they get the number 1 spot of Niche Rank.

    very funny and informative post. like it!

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